Korea Box Office: ‘No Time to Die’ Dominates Depressed Weekend

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James Bond shot his way to the top spot at the South Korean box office, outgunning holdover and new release titles alike. But “No Time To Die” failed to revive Korea’s struggling theatrical market.

“No Time to Die” scored $3.30 million over the weekend, grabbing a 63% or nearly two thirds share of the entire market. That percentage was essentially the same as the market share figure it enjoyed on its Wednesday opening day. After five days the film now has a cumulative total of $4.55 million, according to data from the Kobis box office service operated by the Korean Film Council (Kofic).

The Bond franchise has never been the strongest performer in Korea. And Universal’s 2015 “Spectre” was weaker than 2012 “Skyfall” from Sony.

“Spectre” achieved a lifetime score of 1.82 million spectators, producing a final box office of KRW14.2 billion ($12 million at current exchange rates). “Skyfall” had lifetime total of 2.37 million spectators and a gross of KRW17.5 billion ($14.8 million at today’s exchange rates).

“No Time to Die” replaced “On The Line” as the top film. On it third week on release the local film slipped by 50% to score $770,000 over the weekend. Since its Sept. 15 outing, it has earned $9.31 million.

Below that, “Miracle” earned $362,000 in third place, for a running total of $4.23 million after three weeks. In fourth place, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” earned $168,000. After a month on release, the Marvel title has accumulated $14.6 million.

Japanese animation, “Belle: The Dragon and the Freckled Princess” opened in fifth place with $129,000 over the weekend and $180,000 over five days.

The lackluster performances gave a $5.22 million nationwide box office total for the weekend. That was a jump from the previous weekend’s ultra-low total of $3.58 million.

The latest depression can only partly be blamed on the current state of anti-COVID restrictions. With new virus infections running at over 2,000 per day in recent days, health restrictions look likely to remain in place for another couple of weeks. Greater Seoul has been under ‘Level 4’ conditions, the highest under the country’s four-level system, since July. These restrict cinema hours and capacity. The rest of the country is on ‘Level 3.’

Box office briefly surged for the Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) holidays in mid-September, but subsequently plunged again to three-month lows. New releases of major Korean titles are in short supply and audiences appear unwilling to brave theaters in large numbers.

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